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We all want strong families, positive early learning experiences, and healthy children, right?! I have to tell you these things don’t happen by accident or automatically; they only happen when adults raise their voices, raise their hands, and promote what is best for children and families. Elected officials tell us over and over that they just don’t hear from people talking about early childhood issues. So, I’m sorry to tell you that good intentions aren’t enough, sitting on the sidelines cheering doesn’t win the game. It’s time to put on the uniform and get in the game – really, when have I ever used a sports analogy before!

There is an action for everyone’s comfort zone, signing a petition, sending an email, making a phone call, attending a town hall meeting, learning more about issues, talking to friends and neighbors, or going to Speak Up For Kids (hosted by Colorado Children's Campaign each year).

You know why this is important. You know children can’t tell law makers what concerns them. You know that laws and rules have a huge impact on the work you do every day. I’ve made a list of organizations and their websites that provide background and context for some of the legislation, both at the state and national levels. Please click on them, learn more about what is at stake, and learn how easy it is to make a difference for children and families.

One last thought, don’t forget to learn about your city council and county commissioners. They can sometimes do things at the local level that cannot be done at a higher level, and they are your neighbors, elected by your community. Actually another last thought, if all else fails, YOU can run for local office and make a difference, stranger things have happened!

Shirley Ritter,  Director Kids First

Teacher award pictures
Early Childhood Network logo

With funding from our Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Council; Early Childhood Network, Kids First, and Garfield County Early Childhood Program are excited to bring back Rachel Wagner, the author of FLIP IT! – Transforming Challenging Behavior.  FLIP IT is a simple four step supportive strategy to guide teachers in responding positively to challenging behaviors. 
Last year we were able to have Rachel present the concept of FLIP IT! to over 100 childcare providers and had a waiting list to get into the training's in Garfield and Eagle County.  So…BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND….we are again thrilled to be able to secure funding so that you have the opportunity to attend this year.
In addition to the useful information presented, you will receive:

  • A Free FLIP IT! Book, handouts and a free lunch ??
  • 7 hours towards your annual ongoing training hours needed for licensing
  • An opportunity to network with your early childhood peers
  • A chance at door prizes!
  • 2 points added to your Early Childhood Professional Credential

Seating is limited. Priority will be given to those who weren’t able to be present last year and then to those who register first for a refresher.  Please register as soon as possible to secure your seat.  Eagle County will also be holding a FLIP IT! training.  See the FLIP IT! flyers included in this newsletter for more information.  See you there…..

Flip It flyer




Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Council logo

Ratings in Colorado: A General Timeline

1990’s – Qualistar forms as a non-profit and develops what becomes known as the Qualistar Rating with the innovative goal of developing an assessment tool for early childhood programs. The process was voluntary and programs had to pay for an assessment. This program was in place until Colorado developed the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System.

Highlights of the NEW Colorado Shines Rating from 2015-2018

  • In 2015, Colorado launched the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) and the Professional Development Information System (PDIS). 
  • After adding additional components and other edits to the original Qualistar rating, the end result is what is now known as the Colorado Shines Rating. The rating is currently offered at no charge to programs.
  • The QRIS system helps EC Programs understand and improve their quality.  Eligible programs receive coaching support and funds to help support overall quality improvement efforts. 
  • PDIS helps EC professionals understand and improve their credentials.
  • From 2015-2018, the state contracted with Qualistar’s assessors to do the onsite Environmental Rating Scale assessments and evaluate the uploaded documentation in the QRIS system. 
  • Lastly, on-site assessors and CDE come together as a team to evaluate all documentation and determine a final Colorado Shines score for each program.
What the rating looks like today…
  • The Colorado Shines Rating is here to stay. The state continues to engage in evaluation efforts to ensure the rating is valid and evidence-based and effectively assesses quality early childhood programming in our state.
  • Moving forward, the state is now contracting with Clayton Early Learning to be the on-site assessor for Colorado Shines ratings.

For more information about the rating, visit:

Or visit our website:

Stacy Petty

Stacy Petty, Council Coordinator

Kristen Sparkman, Early Childhood Specialist

Kristin Sparkman
Kids First logo

Coaching Corner with Megan Monaghan and Adley Kent

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”
 – Carl Jung, psychiatrist
What behaviors “drive you crazy” or “push your buttons”? How do these behaviors make you feel? How does the child’s behavior affect the relationship you have with the child and their families?

Try this short activity to deepen your thinking about what happens when certain kids push our “Hot Buttons.”

Hot buttons graphic

Try to come up with 1-2 strategies to help strengthen the relationship that you have with the child that pushes your buttons. Talk to your co-teacher and director to come up with a plan on how to react differently when your hot buttons are pushed.

When we are feeling frustrated or like we don’t know what to do it is difficult to be effective with children. It is important to plan and have a strategy for when we feel this way or when we are dealing with certain situations.

At the foundation of everything we do with children is the relationship that we build with children, their families, and other colleagues. Children learn and develop in the context of relationships that are responsive, consistent, and nurturing. Thinking about how we can change our actions as adults and build relationships with each child can save the child from potentially becoming labeled as the “difficult child” later in life.
So take a second and ask your self- what are my hot buttons?

Baby face

Baby teeth are important ......

Children’s dental hygiene is important starting before the first tooth appears. 

Why do baby teeth matter when we will eventually loose these teeth anyway?  These teeth help with chewing, speaking and smiling and because the practices that are started at this age set the stage for how healthy a child’s mouth will be as they grow. Tooth decay can start as soon as the first tooth erupts, anytime between 4-12 months old.

Keep these strategies in mind when helping children keep their teeth healthy.

  1. Wipe baby’s gums clean with a moist washcloth everyday
  2. Keep germs to yourself, do not spread cavity causing germs from your mouth to your baby’s mouth
  3. Begin brushing teeth twice a day as soon as the first tooth erupts
  4. Brush with fluoride toothpaste, a smear the size of a grain of rice, or a pea sized amount for children 3 and up
  5. Limit sugar sweetened beverages to meal times or not at all
  6. Offer water with fluoride to drink between meals and before bed
  7. Encourage children to eat fruits, vegetables and foods low in sugar.  Limit sugary, sticky snacks.
  8. Have an adult help children with tooth brushing until they are age 6, or when the child is old enough to tie their own shoes
  9. Bring children to the dentist by the age of one – children should have their teeth looked at and fluoride varnish applied at least twice a year

Robin Strecker RN
Child Care Health Consultant
City of Aspen, Kids First

Raising a Reader logo
Mom reading to child
Dad reading to a child

Tools for Teachers and Parents

New Videos: Read-aloud Suggestions for Parents of Toddlers:
We produced these videos with the help of a professional video team from Aspen. All the families you will see are local. Please feel free to share far and wide.

Toddlers – English:
Toddlers – Spanish:
TS Gold: Classroom use of Raising A Reader supports at least 27 of the 38 Teaching Strategies Gold Objectives for Preschoolers.

For specifics, click here:

Colorado Shines: Learn how Raising A Reader programs support Colorado Shines and Colorado Quality Standards:
Raising A Reader Aspen to Parachute, 970-230-9117,



This is a great article from Exchange Everyday

6 Waldorf-Inspired Principles for Families
February 28, 2019

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.
-Maya Angelou

Sanya Pelini, on the website describes six Waldorf-inspired principles that she says would be possible and beneficial for every family to adopt:

1. Childhood isn't meant to be a race…
Children do not all develop in the same way, nor do they develop at the same rhythm. Waldorf education teaches us to be attentive to the needs of each individual child and to stop expecting our kids to be what they're not.

2. Become a storyteller
Stories help children to connect, they teach them new words, and they take them to places they've never been. Waldorf education emphasizes the importance of telling stories rather than reading   stories. Storytelling builds a child's imagination. Making up stories can be difficult but it gets easier with time. You can also tell simple stories you remember from your childhood…Young  children like to listen to the same story several times so they'll be happy with the same story repeated for a while.

3. Connect with nature every day
Children thrive on physical activity. Playing outside also spurs their creativity. Connecting with nature means teaching our children to be more attentive to the world around them…
Opportunities to connect with nature abound: smell flowers, pick flowers, collect pebbles, take pictures of insects, pick leaves, paint or draw still life objects, play with sticks, build forts, dig, play with sand, scavenger hunts, etc.

4. Teach your kids to play
Waldorf education is based on the principle that the simplest toys foster the greatest creativity… Waldorf education favors simple and eco-friendly toys to which everyone has access: pinecones, shells, acorns, yarn, silk rags and handkerchiefs, sticks and branches, wooden blocks, acorns, stones, cardboard etc.

5. Establish routines…
There are many benefits to establishing routines. The authors of the book Simplicity Parenting (incidentally, one of the authors is a Waldorf educator) are convinced that rituals and routines give children a sense of security and provide them with roots. They believe that establishing routines can simplify parenting and make parenting a more fulfilling experience.

6. Make room for art
Making room for art means providing our children with unstructured moments in which they can practice creative play. It is in these moments that they develop their creativity…

Source:“6 Waldorf-inspired principles every family should adopt,” by Sanya Pelini,


Garfield County logo

Licensing Corner

Your local licensing team wants to ensure you are kept in the loop of everything licensing. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Changes to licenses

  • There is a new, two page Change Request form available on the Office of Early Childhood’s (OEC) website which MUST be used for any changes which do not require an application.  There is no additional fee required if this form is submitted along with Continuation Notice and fee. 

  • The following changes to licenses DO require a new application*:

1) Change of licensee, owner or governing body,
2) Change in location of program;
3) Change in classification of license type. 
*Please note in order for a new license to be recommended for application submitted, providers who have not had FBI and TRAILS background checks in the last five years will need to submit new background checks (via digital fingerprinting vendors) and have results of all three background checks on file prior to licensing specialist recommending a new license.  

  • Prior to issuance of new license and any changes to licensed space (ie. room changes, changes to capacity and/or age ranges, construction, etc), Child Care Centers must be inspected and obtain an approving inspection report from local fire and health departments. 

  • All child care facilities (including family child care homes) must operate in compliance with local planning and zoning requirements before issuance of a new license.

Fingerprinting “Privacy Act Notification form”: The Privacy Act Notification form is now required for people getting fingerprinted for the Criminal Background Check and must be kept on file for a licensing specialist to review.   
Clarification on Child Care Center Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) qualification per 7.702.44 A I i. The rule states:  Twenty-four (24) months (3,640 hours) of verified experience in the care and supervision of four (4) or more children less than six (6) years of age who are not related to the individual. Satisfactory experience includes being a licensee of a Colorado family child care home; a teacher’s aide or teacher in a child care center, preschool, or elementary school, plus either:
1) A current Colorado Level I credential*; or,
2) Two (2) three-semester hour early childhood education college courses from a regionally accredited college or university, at either a two year, four year or graduate level, in each of the following subject or content areas with one course being either introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies. 
*Please note PDIS version 2.0 Level I or Level II meets “current Colorado Level 1 credential.” All OEC documentation related to this rule, including Application Forms (Forms A, B and C)  will be updated to reflect this clarification.   
Sandy, Mark & Rebecca
Garfield County DHS Child Care Program

Riverbridge flyer
Early Learning Ventures
Baby and toy

Spend time with your kids,
your paperwork

Early Learning Ventures (ELV) is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to quality, affordable child care. ELV focuses its efforts on improving the quality of child care programs offered at center and home-based facilities—85 percent of which are small, independent businesses that might not have the infrastructure and resources to invest in quality improvements.

ELV helps both center-based and family-based child care providers save time and money through a shared services approach that helps providers run the administrative side of their business through a comprehensive child care management system called CORE. ELV supports over 200 child care providers through the use of CORE, which is specifically tailored for Colorado child care licensing compliance. Additionally, ELV provides Early Head Start services to 580 children in Arapahoe, Garfield, Mesa, and Pueblo counties.

“Our licensing visit was wonderful. It wasn’t time-consuming like it had been in the past. All the information was already on CORE.” – Dana Richardson, Owner of Life Center Academy

Find out why over 200 Colorado providers are using Early Learning Ventures’ child care management system, CORE, today. Contact ELV Membership Development Director Michael Taylor by calling (317) 518-5203 or emailing to learn more.


Why Immunize?

Lauded as one of the greatest public health achievements of all time, immunizations have eradicated or greatly reduced some of the worst diseases in human history, such as Smallpox and Diphtheria.
Many vaccine-preventable diseases are highly contagious and can be life-threatening even for people who are healthy and active. Vaccines elicit a response form the immune system, which produces antibodies for specific diseases. So, even if an immunized person gets sick, the symptoms won’t be as severe because the body is ready to fight!
Colorado parents are allowed to opt out of immunizations; however, child care organizations can adopt stricter policies if they desire. The public’s perceived risk of many diseases has decreased because of vaccines, but those diseases make a comeback when we stop vaccinating.
Provide parents with data from science-backed sources and encourage them to seek out information from medical or public health professionals, rather than blogs or social media. The only way to prevent epidemics is to continue immunizing until disease is eliminated!
Here are a couple of good sources of information for staff and parents:

Natalie Tsevdos
Environmental Health and Sustainability
p: 970.920.5075

Kindergarten information
Food Heart picture

Heart Health

Did you know that February was American Heart Month? Your heart is a muscle, so you have to work it just like you'd work your biceps or your core. The City of Aspen invites you to do 500 minutes of cardio exercise this month. If you usually go for a walk, kick it up a notch and try a light jog, or switch it up and try something totally new. Whatever activity you choose, raise your heart rate for 20 minutes or more at a time.
15 foods that are good for your heart

  1. Eat fish high in omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout.
  2. A handful of healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts will satisfy your hunger and help your heart.
  3. Berries are chock full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. Try blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries in cereal or yogurt.
  4. Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytoestogens to boost heart health. Take them in ground or milled form to reap the greatest benefit.
  5. Oatmeal: the comfort-food nutrient powerhouse.
  6. Dark beans,such as kidney or black beans, are high in fiber, B-vitamins, minerals and other good stuff. Veggie chili, anyone?
  7. A 4-ounce glass of red wine (up to two for men and one for women per day) can help improve good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  8. Try marinated tofu in a stir-fry with fresh veggies for a heart-healthy lunch or dinner.
  9. Red, yellow and orange veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers and acorn squash are packed with carotenoids, fiber and vitamins to help your heart.
  10. Popeye was right – spinach packs a punch! Use it in sandwiches and salads instead of lettuce.
  11. Fruits such as oranges, cantaloupes and papaya are rich in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and fiber.
  12. Tender, sweet asparagus is filled with mighty nutrients such as beta-carotene, folate and fiber, and only provide 25 calories per cup, or 5 calories per large spear.
  13. Tomatoes – even sun-dried varieties in winter months – provide lycopene, vitamin C and alpha- and beta-carotene.
  14. Dark chocolate is good for your heart health, but just be sure that it’s at least 70 percent cocoa.
  15. Crisp, fresh broccoli florets dipped in hummus are a terrific heart-healthy snack with a whopping list of nutrients, including vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium and fiber.

Empowering leaders
Aspen Family Connections logo

Aspen Family Connections has resources for families.  Here is the
link to their March Newsletter 

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